By Dennis Austin
College marks an important period in a student’s life. As students begin to transition into adulthood, college is a playground of sorts, a place where experimentation, deep thought, and pondering on what lies ahead are all on the menu. Some students define their college experience through partying, sexual exploration, intense academic rigor, or a combination of sorts. However, for many students they are not in the least concerned with these activities as their energy is more focused on getting themselves out of bed, dealing with an anxiety attack or flirting with the idea of suicide.
Over the past few years mental health has become a hallmark on college campuses across the world. More attention and resources have now been dedicated in assisting students who struggle with their internal demons, which for many, is a case of life and death. Here at Genesee Community College, there is a noticeable sense of despair which afflicts much of the student body. I myself have seen people in my own social circle openly admit to cutting themselves, failed suicide attempts, amongst many other tragic stories. One student in particular had cut themselves multiple times in their abdomen, an event which required an overnight hospital stay.
Earlier this month at the behest of GCC President James Sunser, me and College Village Resident Assistant Randy Bumbury, visited Monroe Community College and advocated for more resources on campus to deal with this crisis. In a room filled with State legislators across various regions we plead our case as to why this issue requires urgent action. Jeanie Burdick is a fine counselor here at GCC and has performed her job well, but she is only one individual. Given that our estimated student population is well over 1,000 (more if our campus centers and distance learning students are calculated), there is simply not enough resources available to address the needs of students.
To be blunt, we need money. Monetary backing would ensure we could afford more than one full-time, qualified counselor as well as expanding our services at the Counseling Center. Thus, GCC could provide more options for students to better manage their health outside of what currently exists, such as Therapy Assist Online, a useful tool students can use, but doesn’t completely solve the problem. The issue we have is not a lack of motivation or skill. That much among faculty is present. We just don’t have the “cache” if you will, to go beyond our constraints and truly make a difference.
Dennis Austin is a graduating sophomore, majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences. He is graduating this semester and will be attending the University of Illinois in January.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911. If you need to make an appointment with our Counseling Center, please contact Jeanie Burdick at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (585)-343-0055 ext. 6219. The Counseling Center is open weekdays, Monday-Friday, from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.